Young Folks' History of Rome eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Young Folks' History of Rome.
old man and hurled him backward, so that the fall killed him, and his body was left in the street.  The wicked Tullia, wanting to know how her husband had sped, came out in her chariot on that road.  The horses gave back before the corpse.  She asked what was in their way; the slave who drove her told her it was the king’s body.  “Drive on,” she said.  The horrid deed caused the street to be known ever after as “Sceleratus,” or the wicked.  But it was the plebeians who mourned for Servius; the patricians in their anger made Tarquin king, but found him a very hard and cruel master, so that he is generally called Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquin the proud.  In his time the Sybil of Cumae, the same wondrous maiden of deep wisdom who had guided AEneas to the realms of Pluto, came, bringing nine books of prophecies of the history of Rome, and offered them to him at a price which he thought too high, and refused.  She went away, destroyed three, and brought back the other six, asking for them double the price of the whole.  He refused.  She burnt three more, and brought him the last three with the price again doubled, because the fewer they were, the more precious.  He bought them at last, and placed them in the Capitol, whence they were now and then taken to be consulted as oracles.

[Illustration:  Sybil’s cave.]

Rome was at war with the city of Gabii, and as the city was not to be subdued by force, Tarquin tried treachery.  His eldest son, Sextus Tarquinius, fled to Gabii, complaining of ill-usage of his father, and showing marks of a severe scourging.  The Gabians believed him, and he was soon so much trusted by them as to have the whole command of the army and manage everything in the city.  Then he sent a messenger to his father to ask what he was to do next.  Tarquin was walking through a cornfield.  He made no answer in words, but with a switch cut off the heads of all the poppies and taller stalks of corn, and bade the messenger tell Sextus what he had seen.  Sextus understood, and contrived to get all the chief men of Gabii exiled or put to death, and without them the city fell an easy prey to the Romans.

Tarquin sent his two younger sons and their cousin to consult the oracle at Delphi, and with them went Lucius Junius, who was called Brutus because he was supposed to be foolish, that being the meaning of the word; but his folly was only put on, because he feared the jealousy of his cousins.  After doing their father’s errand, the two Tarquins asked who should rule Rome after their father.  “He,” said the priestess, “who shall first kiss his mother on his return.”  The two brothers agreed that they would keep this a secret from their elder brother Sextus, and, as soon as they reached home, both of them rushed into the women’s rooms, racing each to be the first to embrace their mother Tullia; but at the very entrance of Rome Brutus pretended to slip, threw himself on the ground and kissed his Mother Earth, having thus guessed the right meaning of the answer.

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Young Folks' History of Rome from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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